Town hall leader joins Sadiq Khan to blame government for congestion charge and TfL price hikes
PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 June 2020
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The leader of the council has accused the government of kicking commuters in the teeth with fare and congestion charge hikes.
The Labour Party leader of Barking and Dagenham, Darren Rodwell, joined mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to slam Conservative ministers over the rise and changes to operating hours on top of above inflation increases on TfL services.
Cllr Rodwell, said: “The government’s funding package for TfL is deeply unfair. Londoners are being punished for doing the right thing and staying at home during this pandemic.
“The Tories have chosen to balance TfL’s books on the backs of hardworking Londoners.”
He added it was “shameful behaviour” and “a kick in the teeth” for people facing higher fares and charges because of a government “intent on playing political games”.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “It is important that the emergency funding package takes steps to put TfL back on a sustainable footing while ensuring fairness for the wider British taxpayer.
“As part of the funding package, therefore, the mayor agreed to increase fares next year on all modes by RPI plus one per cent, in line with the proposals in TfL’s own business plan.”
Cllr Rodwell has also urged the government to abandon its “highly partisan approach” and work on a new way to fund TfL.
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The coronavirus pandemic has blown a hole in TfL’s finances with the number of Londoners using the underground down 95 per cent on last summer. The number of bus passengers has dropped 85pc.
TfL relies on fares to cover the cost of its services after the previous Conservative government cut the transport authority’s £700million annual grant.
Cllr Rodwell and Mayor Khan say the government insisted on the changes and the scrapping of travel perks for pensioners and under 18s.
Mr Khan said: “I want to be clear – this is not the deal I wanted, but the one that is being imposed on our city by the most anti-London government in living memory.
“This Tory government has agreed similar funding packages for every other transport authority in the UK – but they have not insisted on punishing their citizens in the same way they have Londoners.”
But the DfT spokesperson said: “The decision to temporarily raise the congestion charge and extend the hours in June was taken by the mayor and is a matter for him.
“The temporary suspension of the freedom pass was also agreed by the mayor in order to manage demand during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
A Written Ministerial Statement outlining the emergency funding package agreed by the government and the mayor was laid in Parliament on May 18.
A government led review on TfL’s financial sustainability is planned.
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